Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Jobs with justice for Aboriginal workers : Day of Action & Protest - 29 October 2010

NETWORKERS,
Please mark your calendars now.
Protests and actions will be taking place in
Sydney, Melbourne, and Alice Springs.
This I can say for sure.
Please notify me at misseaglesnetwork(at)gmail(dot)com
of other actions.
If nothing is planned where you live,
please get going now and make this protest truly nation-wide.
And let Miss Eagle know.

Paddy Gibson has been in touch with the following letter and statement
Paddy Gibson is a researcher at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning
University of Technology, Sydney.  He is currently working in Central Australia

Dear all,

The Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs is requesting support for a statement demanding 'Jobs with Justice for Aboriginal Workers'  that will be launched on October 29 with protest rallies around the country.

The statement highlights the serious breaches of workers' rights and massive increases in unemployment that have taken place under the NT Intervention. We are aiming to print it in The Australian newspaper on the day of the launch. The cost of the public notice is expected to be around $11,000.

The closure of Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) has been devastating, throwing proud community workers who were being paid wages onto the dole. 

It has been one of the main tools used by government to push through their current agenda of 'mainstreaming' and assimilation. Without access to proper employment programs in their own communities, the pressure builds up on Aboriginal families to move away. Similarly, without access to the funding and workers previously provided by CDEP, many Aboriginal organisations are suffering drastically reduced capacity.

Recent revelations of widespread starvation in Aboriginal communities provided to an NT government child protection inquiry underscore the complete failure of the NT Intervention to address acute social problems.

Unless the resources currently being spent on discriminatory bureaucracy can be redirected to employment opportunities and programs based in Aboriginal communities, the well-being and living conditions of Aboriginal people in the NT will continue to sharply deteriorate. Please follow the links provided in the footnotes to the attached statement, or get in contact if you require any more information about these issues.

Pressure is mounting for change. As highlighted in this statement, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recently issued another strong condemnation of NT Intervention. And in the
recent federal election, strong Greens candidates Barbara Shaw and Warren H Williams out-polled both Labor and Liberal in Aboriginal communities in Central Australia standing on a clear anti-Intervention platform.

The call for support for the 'Jobs with Justice' statement came from a major conference held in Alice Springs in July. Aboriginal community leaders, human rights activists and union members and representatives from across the NT and Australia all pledged support. Other early endorsements include the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) NT who cover many Aboriginal workers affected by the Intervention and Aboriginal leaders such as Barbara Shaw and Larissa Behrendt.

This letter is requesting:-
  • Your public endorsement of the 'Jobs with Justice' statement;
  • A donation to help with the cost of publication. All donations are most appreciated no matter how small. If you or your organisation would like to be listed as a supporter in the newspaper, we are requesting donations of $100 or more.
  • Help securing the endorsement of this statement by potentially supportive organisations
Please email your endorsement to jobs.w.justice@gmail.com or phone Marlene Hodder from the Intervention Rollback Action Group (Alice Springs) on 08 89525032.

Please forward your donation to:
Intervention Rollback Action Group
PO Box 8488
Alice Springs NT 0871

Or by direct deposit to:
Bendigo Community Bank
A/c Name: Intervention Rollback Action Gr.
BSB No: 633-000
A/c No: 134 157 049

Please send a notice to jobs.w.justice@gmail.com when you have made a donation.
Many thanks for your ongoing support.

in solidarity,
Paddy Gibson
for the Intervention Rollback Action Group Alice Springs


-----------------------------

Statement to be launched with protest rallies on October 29:
Stop the NT Intervention - Jobs with Justice for Aboriginal Workers
Worse than Workchoices

The NT Intervention promised to deliver ‘real jobs’ for Aboriginal communities. Instead, thousands of waged jobs have been lost and Aboriginal organisations have been crippled as Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) close down. [i]

Under the new CDEP scheme designed by the Federal Labor government, Aboriginal people no longer receive wages.  They are being forced to work providing vital services such as rubbish collection, school bus runs, sewerage maintenance, construction and aged care in exchange for quarantined Centrelink payments.[ii]

People are compelled to work 16 hours a week for $115 cash, plus $115 credit on a ‘BasicsCard’ which can only be used on ‘priority items’ in government approved stores. Aboriginal workers have described this as a return to the "ration days", when they were paid in food instead of cash.

Centrelink is threatening to cut off payments entirely if people do not participate. Unclear guidelines and the vulnerable position of many workers have seen cases of people working 30 hrs or more for no extra money.[iii]

This is far worse than anything the Liberals inflicted on workers under WorkChoices.

The Labor government committed to halving the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in a decade. But due to a continuation of Howard era policies such as the Intervention, Indigenous unemployment has drastically worsened from 13.8% in 2007 to 18.1% in 2009.[iv]

500 ‘real jobs’ created to replace some of the lost CDEP positions in remote NT shire councils face the axe next year. The Commonwealth is refusing to guarantee ongoing funding of $8.5 million per year needed by the NT government to keep the jobs.[v]  

Many Aboriginal communities serviced by these shires already suffer atrocious living conditions – 500 more job losses will be devastating.

The NT Intervention shames Australia. Despite recent amendments, the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) ruled in August that Intervention legislation provides clear evidence of "embedded racism" against Aboriginal people.[vi] 

The UNCERD report said living conditions had deteriorated for Aboriginal people under the Intervention through loss of land, property, employment, legal rights and opportunities for cultural development.[vii]

Rather than abandon failed policy, the government is planning to spend $350 million (over 4 years) to expand income management across the NT.[viii]  

This money is desperately needed to create real jobs in Aboriginal communities and ensure the provision of basic services.

The government must act immediately to:
  • Guarantee the 500 threatened Shire jobs
  • End compulsory income management
  • End current CDEP arrangements forcing people to work for the BasicsCard
  • Turn all CDEP positions into fully waged jobs
  • Provide massive investment in job creation and service provision inall Aboriginal communities.

________________________________

[i] There were approximately 7500 CDEP participants receiving wages in
the NT before reforms that came with the Intervention. See Altman, J
‘Neo-Paternalism and the Destruction of CDEP’, Arena 90, September
2007 at http://www.federalintervention.info/docs/issues/Altman_Paternalism.pdf

[ii] See Gibson, P Working for the BasicsCard in the Northern
Territory, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning UTS Briefing Papers
at http://www.jumbunna.uts.edu.au/publications/pdf/JIHLBP12.pdf

[iii] The Age June 16 2010
http://www.theage.com.au/national/for-some-workers-the-struggle-will-never-end-20100615-yd9p.html

[iv] Crikey June 4 2010
http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/06/04/closing-the-gap-rudd-overpromised-on-indigenous-unemployment/

[v] ABC http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/04/2918143.htm and
http://search.abc.net.au/search/click.cgi?url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/18/2931143.htm&rank=3&collection=abcall

[vi] ABC http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s2996077.htm and
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/08/17/2985720.htm

[vii] A full copy of the UNCERD report is available at
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/co/CERD-C-AUS-CO-15_17.doc

[viii] ABC http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/22/2933374.htm

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